The capital of the state of Victoria is a bustling seaport, as well as a technology and financial center. With a lively arts and cultural scene, Melbourne also ranks as one of the most livable cities in the world. The City Centre is where the shops, restaurants and nightlife are concentrated. The Italian-inflected Carlton neighborhood is home to numerous galleries and museums, including the Melbourne Museum, with exhibits devoted to the First Peoples as well as to artifacts from the Pacific Islands. Federation Square is a gathering place that includes the Ian Potter Centre, showcasing Australian Aboriginal art. The Melbourne Cup horse race is held each November, and the Australian Open draws throngs of tennis fans in January.
City Centre Explorations
The City Centre is where the shops, restaurants and nightlife are concentrated. The Docklands is an old shipyard turned into an entertainment district, and colorful Chinatown has its roots in the gold rush of the 1850s. Federation Square is a gathering place that includes the Ian Potter Centre, which showcases Aboriginal art. If you enjoy discovering cities on foot, Melbourne’s grid layout — at least in the central business district — is a real plus, as is the extensive tram system, with more than 152 miles of track.
Housed in a contemporary building in Carlton Gardens, the Melbourne Museum stands by the splendid 1880 Royal Exhibition Building. Its Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre is devoted to indigenous Australians and details their often-tragic interactions with the West. The exhibition of Pacific Island artifacts includes a fine collection of sailing craft.
Verdant Fitzroy Gardens provides relief from the urban bustle with serene pathways, a collection of fully mature trees, a water garden and a beautiful conservatory. The gardens also hold the original home of the parents of the great English explorer Captain James Cook. A must for his admirers is the small but fascinating discovery center adjacent to the house, which clearly illustrates all of Cook’s momentous voyages.